College Station, TX – Crane, Wink, and Alpine fought their way through the pool competition of the Division III State 7-on-7 Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Veterans Park in College Station.
The day began for the Permian Basin teams with three pools of four teams participating in a round robin format. Pool D consisted of – Crane, Archer City, Rosebud-Lott, and Tidehaven. Crane quarterback Jaxon Willis and Team Purple Storm rolled through pool play undefeated, including a 24-18 opening win over Archer City. They would follow that with a 26-8 win over Tidehaven, before completing the sweep with a dominating 24-6 victory over Rosebud-Lott. No strangers to making a deep run into bracket play, the Golden Cranes were finalists in the 2019 State 7-on-7 Division III Tournament.
Wink and Alpine are also Permian Basin teams competing in the state tournament. The Fighting Bucks played against stout competition in Pool C with the likes of Lexington, Tolar, and Waskom. Meanwhile, the Wildcats fought through a tough Pool G against Collinsville, Dublin, and 2020 Class 2A Div II State finalist Franklin.
Alpine opened with a pair of low scoring affair losses to Lexington (18-8) and Tolar (14-6). They would rebound with a 13-7 win over Waskom to finish the day 1-2 in Pool C. Wink dealt a similar situation. Right out of the box, the Wildcats were paired with Franklin. The Lions held a slim 12-7 advantage at the half.
Wink quarterback Kanon Gibson answered by leading a touchdown scoring drive to open the second half and take a 13-12 lead. The Wildcats then forced a turnover but were unable to capitalize. With time running down, Franklin regained the lead for a 19-13 edge. Wink refused to lay down and quit by marching downfield to collect another TD with under 20 seconds to play. Opting for the win instead of a tie, a pass to the right sailed just out of the fingertip grasp of Wildcat receiver Jordan Tally. Franklin escaped with a 20-19 win.
The Wildcat efforts came up just shy in the second pool game against Dublin, falling 48-41. Wink was able to turn the momentum and score a 31-19 victory over Collinsville to end the day on a positive note and finish 1-2 in Pool G.
The championship bracket of the Division III State Tournament (Class 3A and smaller classification schools) will kickoff back here at the Veterans Park and Athletic Complex at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow. Crane will open with Mildred, Wink will face Lexington, and Alpine has drawn Franklin in bracket action.